Was Jesus Really Raised from the Dead?

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1Peter 1:3)

All four of the biographies on the life of Jesus, referred to as The Gospels [meaning, “Goodempty-tomb2tn News”] of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John describe in great detail the events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the most important event in human history and one of the most documented events of the ancient world. In fact, it is said that there is more documented evidence on the resurrection of Christ than there is on any single event in the life of George Washington.

The evidence is simply overwhelming!

“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .” — E. M. Blaiklock (Professor of Classics, Auckland University)

An Englishman by the name of John Singleton Copley, better known as Lord Lyndhurst, is recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history. He was the solicitor-general of the British government, attorney-general of Great Britain, three times high chancellor of England, and elected as high steward of the University of Cambridge, thus holding in one lifetime the highest offices ever conferred upon a judge in Great Britain.

After Copley’s death, some personal papers were discovered which contained his comments concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the light of legal evidence, and why he became a Christian. Listen to what this great legal mind said, “I know pretty well what evidence is: and I tell you, such evidence, as that for the resurrection, has never broken down yet.”

Dr. Simon Greenleaf was a famous Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University and was primarily responsible for Harvard’s eminent position among law schools in the United States. Greenleaf produced a famous, three-volume work, entitled A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which is still considered one of the greatest authorities on the subject in the entire literature of legal procedure.

At one time Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the “myth” of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection, Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion!

With a lawyer’s skill Greenleaf put his principles to work as he examined the historical evidence surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible and other historical writings. After careful examination, he wrote a book concerning the authenticity of the resurrection entitled An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. The evidence wins out again. He said, “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact”[1] (For more information go to http://www.av1611.org/resur.html)

Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling, was once talking about the truths of Christianity at a dinner party and particularly the evidence for Christ’s resurrection. Placing his fingertips together, assuming a judicial attitude, and speaking with a quiet emphasis that was extraordinarily impressive, he made this powerful statement, “We as Christians are asked to take a very great deal on trust; the teachings, for example, and the miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one, should be skeptical. The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what he proclaimed himself to be must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favor as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”

Thomas Arnold, formerly Professor of History at Rugby and Oxford, one of the world’s great historians, could say: “I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead.” [2]

Why is the resurrection of Christ so important? The point Lord Darling was making is this. If Jesus had not risen from the dead he would be just another dead, self-proclaimed prophet. However, Jesus resurrection proved he is all that he claims to be. By physically raising from the dead, Jesus validated the fact that he is indeed Lord over everything, and all that Jesus taught and said is true.

“The most important proof is that of the testimony of the people who were actual eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ. It is important to note that the following people would be qualified eyewitnesses in any court of law, either in Roman or Hebrew courts of the time or in modern American courts. To qualify formally to give eyewitness testimony, the witness must be shown to be mentally competent as well as having been competent at the time the events occurred. The witness must also be able to withstand an examination of his own character as a basis for accepting his testimony.

*The Roman soldiers assigned to guard the tomb were objective witnesses to the resurrection, even though they did not believe in the deity of Christ. (Matthew 28:12-15)
* The unbelieving chief priest and the elders of the Sanhedrin were eyewitnesses to the empty tomb. (Matthew 28:11-12)
* Mary Magdalene, (Matthew 28:1, 6; John 20:15-17; Mark 16:9-11
* Five other women, including Mary (the wife of Cleopas), and Salomé, (Matthew. 28:9-10; Mark 16:1-6)
* Peter, Luke 14:12
* Matthew, by written testimony, (Matthew 28:6)
* John, by written testimony, (John 20:1-8)
* The written testimony of facts as given by witnesses, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:3. All people, in fact, mentioned in the previous section, to whom Christ appeared after His resurrection, were eyewitnesses.
* The fact of the resurrection of Christ may also be inferred from a number of other sources. For example, Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, chapter 3:3, states that Jesus Christ was resurrected and had made appearances on the earth.”[3]

I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” — Professor Thomas Arnold [4]

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades [the place of the dead].” – Jesus (Revelation 1:18)

Once for all Jesus demonstrated himself to be Lord over death, hell and the grave. And in so doing, he not only confirmed his personal claims about himself, but also Jesus demonstrated his matchless ability to save us—to redeem us from sin and its power over our lives. Jesus can, therefore, offer new life, direction, and hope to those who choose to follow him.

To read an excellent article entitled Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell, go to http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html

[1] Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists, (New York, 1874), p. 28.

[2] Thomas Arnold, Sermons on Christian Life, Its Fears and Its Close, (6th ed., London, 1854), p. 324.

[3] Taken from Grace Notes at http://www.bga.com/~wdoud/topics/resurrection.html

[4] Was for fourteen years the headmaster of Rugby, author of the three-volume History of Rome, and holder of the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts.

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